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171218 December 18, 2017


High School Yearbook Confidential
Tommy Towery & Tony Thompson
LHS '64

   The well established YMCA program aimed at school-aged children had it's roots in early YMCA youth programs. The term Hi-Y  was first officially used in 1927, but the YMCA had been active  with youths since the 1850s. Hi-Y stands for High School YMCA and was for boys only. Tri-Hi-Y (the female version) started soon after the Hi-Y program. "Tri" comes from the Triangle Girls Clubs. Now the Hi-Y program is co-ed.

    The purpose of the Hi-Y and Tri-Hi-Y clubs are to CREATE, MAINTAIN and EXTEND to the fullest capacity of one’s ability, throughout the home, school and community, HIGH STANDARDS OF MORAL CHARACTER through improvement, brother/sisterhood, equality, and service in High Schools.

    The picture at the top of this story is a picture of the Hi-Y page of the 1964 Silver Sabre, the first yearbook for the full-fledged Lee High School. It has been an item of interest in one of the Lee High School Facebook pages this last week. The majority of the conversation and the posts were made by Tony Thompson, who was a member of the Silver Sabre staff.

    Tony wrote, “The top photo on the page is of the remaindier of the Hi-Y Club after our Sponsor, Mr. Stewart, determined that several of us were not adhering to the "Christian Values" of the Club. This happened about a week before final Edit of the yearbook. He only wanted the top picture to be in the Yearbook. Someone who was on the Yearbook Staff (his name escapes me at the moment) in the 11th hour informed the Powers to Be that Mr. Stewart had given permission for all three to be published If they were properly captioned! (Nice photos, if i do say so myself.)Years later he laughed about it and said that was something I would do.”

     “So, the funny part is that picture was never supposed to be in the yearbook, but if you look at the page in the book you will see past members and current members. ONLY CURRENT were supposed to be there. I  Got in a lot of trouble over that picture.”

     “Mr. Stewart kicked us all off because of  Christian values not being held up.   I said only the current members could be in the yearbook.  I changed it on final edition and got in all kinds of trouble had to go meet with Mr. Hamilton about it.”

     That was Tony’s story and I have to believe it now but back in the day I heard a different version. My version was many of the folks on the left side of the big picture only joined the Hi-Y so they could go on the Spring Break Florida trip.  The spring break trip was in conjunction with the female associated Tri-Hi-Y club. Since Lee did not have a school sponsored trip, the YMCA sponsored trip was a work around and allowed students to take that envied trip to Florida. After the trip they dropped out, but the picture was made earlier in the year when they were still active members. By the time the yearbook was printed they had dropped out of the  club. Perhaps there is a little truth to both stories, since I also heard stories of what the members of the Hi-Y club did in Florida and many were of incidents which did not display high values of morals.

The Present State of Christmas Presents
Part II
Tommy Towery
LHS '64
    Christmas was not all getting, but included giving as well. Though I did not have an income, my family always provided me the means to buy presents for those on my own shopping list. Even though I remember more about receiving than giving, there are always some presents which stand out. I remember getting my mother a bottle of “Evening in Paris” toilet water one year in its glamorous Blue bottle. What could be more elegant than a bottle of “French Perfume” bought at the W.T. Grant five-and-dime on Washington Street? I also remember buying her a set of coasters for the living room coffee table. My most memorable gift for my father was a simple white shirt. I really could have done better than that I suppose, but because of his divorce with my mother, I was not around him much to know what he wanted. The point is, I went to a store and picked out their presents all by myself and I bought them from a local merchant. It was fun and exciting, especially for a kid.

    Alas, I fear those days are headed the way of the 10-cent Krystal hamburger. Today, as Christmas season grows more and more impersonal, I believe we may never return to those old ways.

    These days, all the grandkids want are gift cards. Personally, I hate giving and getting gift cards. Even at this age, I hate the idea of getting up on Christmas morning and opening presents and not having anything to play with when I am through. If I get an electric drill I can go out in the garage and drill holes in things to my heart’s content. If I get clothes I can try them on and prance around the house in my new duds. If I get food I can snack till I am fat or sick or both. What can I do if I get a gift card? I suppose I could sit around all day and think about what I may buy with it – but that’s not really fun.

    I learned when my daughter was young that if we gave her a present she was happy, no matter what it was. If we gave her money to buy whatever she wanted, she spent days or weeks of misery trying to make sure she came up with an idea of the best thing she could buy with it. I find the same problem with gift cards. I believe that is why so many of them end up being unredeemed. 

    Think about this scenario. I give you a $20 Amazon gift card for Christmas. I open your present for me and “Wow!” it’s a $20 Amazon gift card. Why did we even bother to swap gifts? If you don’t know me good enough to buy me something you think I’ll like, and vice-versa, then why are we even exchanging presents? I know many people still get presents they don’t like or won’t fit and they have to take them back and exchange them, but at least someone went to the trouble of trying to show they cared enough to spend the time and effort to buy you something personal.

    Now I will admit that online shopping doesn’t hold the same traditional effort as going to a dozen or more stores trying to find the perfect gift, but it still beats gift cards in my mind. At least it is a physical gift that can be unwrapped on Christmas Day. And many find it just as difficult to shop online as they do in person, but again, they are putting forth more effort than just taking a gift card off a rack. They are picking out something personal, and the receiver should be grateful for at least the effort put forth.

    So, as we once again near the gift giving season, my mind will wander back to “the good old days” when the floor beneath the tree was filled with bright boxes in gift paper and bows and ribbons, and the traditional “To-From” nametags. I will even smile about the times when the tags sometimes came off and the room was filled with people trying to figure out who an untagged box belonged to.

    “Hey, do you remember when people used to send each other Christmas cards?” It’s just sad to me that sending Christmas cards is almost a “ghost of the past” and I fear that someday actual presents may join that rank as we embrace almost virtual gifts in this new age of technology.

    On a final note, I feel I must add one little thing? What do I do today when I get a gift card for a Christmas present? It’s simple, I buy myself a toy. Not just any toy either. So far, I have replaced the Fanner-50 cap gun and holster set, the Tyco Race Car set, and am now the proud owner of two Robert the Robots – one a vintage model and one a reproduction. I have them stored in a box with my Lincoln Logs, my Krazy Ikes, and my Tinker Toys – all bought off the internet and paid for with gift cards. I want my grandkids to know what my Christmas time was like. Merry Christmas to me!

    That said, and while I still can, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and as Tiny Tim said, “God bless everyone!”

        Memphis, TN - I tried editing this edition with only my ipad and had some troubles, but finally got it finished. I had to leave out some emails but I will include them next week.